#SFSNYC: Verve Sees New Revenue Streams in Location-based Mobile Ads

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There’s no question that brands big and small not only want to take advantage of mobile/local campaigns — but also see real results. Companies want to know if a campaign actually brought customers to a store. Local data can provide the answer — so long as it’s clearly defined and comes from reliable outlets.

With more resources being offered to small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), a discerning eye will be necessary to sort out which providers have real, actionable data to back up their claims. Ray Green, vice-president of enterprise partnerships with Verve, a developer of location-based strategies for brands, will join us at Street Fight Summit on June 12-14, where he will talk about the need to take a closer look at the data and results of localized mobile campaigns.

What topics are you planning to discuss at the Summit?
One of the main parts of our presentation has to do with the adage that people, not platforms, drive revenue. In many presentations, we talk about technology and revolutionary platforms, but rarely do we talk about the actual people, which is what drives revenue for most of what we do. My presentation has to do with how to create a new revenue stream with location-based mobile advertising. The short answer is it is not the platform that does it.

If not the platform, what really makes it happen? Why are people so crucial?
I think it was Albert Einstein who said something to the effect of, “All objects are but a blunt instrument without a living spirit behind it.” That’s the framework in my mind. These platforms do awesome things technically, but unless a salesperson understands and articulates what this technology is going to do for the advertiser and their customer, then none of it matters. No matter how cool or interesting we make the platform story, location-based mobile advertising, or SDKs, at the end of the day if they are walking into Ray Green’s Laundromat, Ray Green wants to know how is this going to help. That’s what we’re going to be talking about: how do you connect a technology with a person through yet another person?

What has been happening with Verve? Last year the company was talking about expansion and potential acquisition plans.
Things are going well from a growth and expansion standpoint. In Europe, we opened our office last year. We have 10 people there now. We’re having some conversations about international expansion beyond just the UK, including acquisitions also.

What are brands starting to understand about the technology that is available?
I work on the enterprise side of the business. Large-scale SMB digital marketers use our platform to power their location-base mobile ad products. I feel a lot of what is happening today is taking the best parts of what location can do — as a really interesting signal — to help understand the consumer, which is powerful for advertisers. All these awesome technologies and things we’ve been talking about with brands for the last couple of years can now be made available to the small business owner. Anything from location-aware audiences to rich media expandable creatives — things that were made available for $100,000-a-clip at minimum last year can now be done for $100 campaigns today for the SMBs.

What’s most exciting for me is all the technology capabilities that were once only available to very large brands that had very large pocketbooks are now available to the everyman. That’s a pretty big deal. We’ve built a platform so the little guy could get access to the same big stuff that everybody else can.

Verve has talked in the past about the importance of the data itself. Where does the market stand in terms of understanding how to make the best use of data and realizing that some data sources have more relevance and value?
From the very beginning, we knew that the signal from the device would be most interesting. Devices equal people in this scenario. We helped launch the very first news application on the Apple App Marketplace, which was the Associated Press App. We’ve always been about being on the device. The big differentiator between us and anybody else close to what we do in the marketplace is our first-party relationships, where our SDK lives inside the application to give us first-party data. We’re often the first or second hop as the impressions become available. Sometimes we’re seeing it before the advertisers or the publishers.

Verve’s Ray Green

It gives us a true-north dataset with first-party data. We touch 220 million devices that we have matched back to 98 million households The difference between us and anybody else would be our connection through first-party relationships, where we understand the device ID and that user intimately. From there we can use those signals from all over the place to understand who they are.

First-party, higher-quality data, relative to the exchanges, being on the device, is going to give you the best information. Holistically we’ll outperform most everybody else 20 to 30 percent from a click-through-rate perspective. The data is just clearer.

What new questions are being asked by the market about how to use available mobile and local technology?
In the small business marketplace, people are very interested in store visits, per se. Within the industry, there are a couple of people who are happy to give advertisers and publishers what they want in terms of store visits go — reporting how many people saw the ads and how many people showed up at the locations. I think an evolution is going to happen around that in the next year or two. There are a lot of signals out there, and a number of people who are happy to share those signals. If you have a $1,000 campaign, you generally don’t have enough good impressions to measure what impact you’ve actually had on people showing up at the location. In the near term, there’s going to be vigorous examination of the data that people are using as well as the viability of what they are claiming from a data science standpoint.

Joao-Pierre Ruth is a Street Fight contributor.

Join Verve’s Ray Green and hundreds of other top local companies and brands at The Best Street Fight Summit Ever — a three-day extravaganza in Brooklyn on June 12-14. Click here to register now!